Christian is the Catholic Church’s best executioner. Dedicated. Devout. Deadly. Ever since the Church saved him from the decimated ruins of his hometown, his commitment to their cause has been unshakable.
How Christian Met Lilith
Seal Beach really was a beautiful place, Christian mused. It was a perfect fusion of modern architecture and quaint shops in a tropical setting. It was also relatively quiet and peaceful; nothing at all like Los Angeles.
At this time of day, LA would have been bustling, with crowds of people walking down the street and cars honking in jam-packed traffic. The repugnant scent of a thousand bodies mixing together would overwhelm his senses, leaving him doing everything humanly possible not to gag.
Such was not the case in Seal Beach. Only a few people walked down the street: a small family getting an early start on the day, a young couple going out for breakfast, and a middle-aged man talking on his cell phone. That was about it. Only a few cars driving down the road. Christian counted no more than twelve.
Yes, this place was truly a bastion of peacefulness and tranquility. If only he could have been stationed here instead of Los Angeles. It was regrettable that this place didn't warrant an Executioners office.
Christian looked down at the map on his tablet. His location was shown as an arrow, his destination as a blue dot. A green line connected the arrow to the dot, showing which streets he should travel. The Crema Café was less than a mile from his location.
According to the reviews that he had read when checking his phone, this was one of the most popular cafés in the vicinity; good food, a peaceful atmosphere, and excellent customer service—just what he was looking for. Maybe he could even read a chapter or two of his light novel when he arrived. That would be nice.
As he turned a corner, a much smaller body crashed into him. A feminine yelp knocked him from his thoughts, and also knocked him off balance. Being bigger than whoever crashed head-first against his chest, he didn’t stumble backward more than a few steps, though he did almost drop his tablet. Only his quick reflexes stopped it from cracking against the pavement.
Shaking his head and internally berating himself for his lack of awareness―a Warrior should always be aware of his surroundings ―Christian looked down to see who he had crashed into…
… and froze.
A young woman around his age sat on the ground before him. Blond hair cascaded down her back like an effervescent waterfall, the sunlight reflecting off each strand, granting her an otherworldly, almost heavenly, appearance. Her face, illuminated by the sun, looked like it had been lovingly crafted by angels. A cute button nose sat below azure-blue eyes. Above the gentle rise of her chin were pink Cupid’s bow lips, which glistened in the light as if she was wearing shiny lip gloss.
Christian glimpsed beautifully crafted thighs and shapely calves. Her small feet were adorned with sandals that left her cute little toes free to wiggle about. A light blue sundress flattered her figure.
Her beauty was not the reason that Christian froze. There was no mistaking this girl. He’d made sure to memorize her picture before coming here. While she was far more beautiful in person, there could be no doubt in his mind about her identity.
Was it fate, or perhaps will of God that he would meet his target so soon after arriving in town? Truly, the Almighty Creator must have been smiling down at him, delivering his target right into his grasp.
Now that he had found her, all he needed to do was get her alone somewhere, someplace where no one else would tread, perhaps an alley, where he could finish her off. A butterfly knife to the heart was not the most efficient way to kill someone, but it would have to do.
“Ouch.” The voice sounded like the tinkling of wind chimes. He focused on the girl sprawled on the sidewalk. She was rubbing her apparently sore backside. “What hit me?”
“I’m really sorry about that,” Christian said, his tone polite. If he wanted to get her somewhere alone, he needed to play this cool. “Here, let me help you up.”
Before he could even offer the girl his hand, she froze.
He wondered if something was wrong. Maybe that fall had injured her more than he had assumed.
Those thoughts were dispelled when the girl looked up at him. Christian was shocked at the terror etched on her face. Her eyes were wide, her pupils were dilated, and her mouth hung open in abject horror. He had seen this look before, on the faces of monsters right before he killed them.
The most telling sign of her fear was not the look on her face, though it certainly completed the image, but the way her body shook, as if the mere sight of him caused her body to lose control of its muscles.
Why does she look so afraid of me? I haven’t done anything to warrant such fear yet.
“Miss, are you—”
Christian’s face scrunched up at the odd noise. “Kya?”
He watched, surprised, as the succubus scrambled backward, away from him. She was still on the ground, using her hands and feet to crawl away like some kind of crustacean. Her face remained frozen in terror. What was going on?
“Um… excuse me?”
He took a step forward.
“M-m-m―it-it’s a-a MAN!” the girl shouted, and scrambled to her feet.
Christian could do nothing but stare as the blonde beauty bolted, running away from him like Satan was nipping at her heels. She disappeared around the next corner.
After several seconds of staring at the now empty sidewalk, Christian summed up his thoughts in a few short words.
“What in God’s name just happened?”
Lilith didn’t know how far she ran. The only thing that mattered was getting away from that man. All she wanted to do was run so far that there was no chance of him catching up to her, provided he was even aware enough to chase her down. She hoped that she was lucky, and that he was too stunned by her to move.
She eventually stopped between two buildings, her forehead covered in sweat. She quivered in fear and exhaustion as adrenaline left her system, draining her of what little energy she had possessed.
She leaned against the red brick wall of a small convenience store, breathing heavily. Her legs felt weak. They were shaking, and she wondered how long it would be before they gave out on her.
It took her a long while to regain her composure. The task was harder than she remembered it being, but that didn’t surprise her in the least. Ever since the incident that had destroyed her life, Lilith had been unable to even look at a man without feeling the stirrings of fear, never mind going near one. She’d had a few close calls since then, and each one left her a shaking wreck. The last time she encountered a man, Maria had been forced to come to her college because she’d locked herself in a science lab, refusing to come out unless Maria was there.
Thankfully, her workplace didn’t have any male employees, though a few dads stopped by to pick up their children. She did her best to not be present when they showed up.
Several seconds passed before the shuddering ceased. With one final glance in the direction she had run from, Lilith began walking to work. She needed to get her mind off what had just happened, and the best way to do that was to spend time doing something that required her full, undivided attention.
Christian was still reeling from the events that had transpired with his target. He kept trying to wrap his mind around what he had witnessed. Try as he might, he couldn’t quite comprehend what that had been about.
That girl, the one that he felt sure was his target, had run away from him with terror in her eyes. He was positive that she didn’t know his identity. How could she? But if that was the case, then why did she run away?
With a shake of his head, he entered The Crema Café, his mind pondering the events of a few seconds ago. The café was pleasantly busy. A few people sat around the scattering of tables and booths, chattering away. There was a bit of a line in front of the register, where people were ordering meals. Waiters and waitresses walked to and fro between tables and groups of people, smiling at customers and making idle conversation.
Christian moved to the back of the line. When his turn came, he decided to go with the oatmeal banana buttermilk pancakes and a coffee. The young girl at the register, who couldn’t have been older than sixteen, gave him a small holder with a number on it, told him to find a seat, and assured him that his order would be right up.
He decided to sit outside. It was too crowded inside for his taste―he’d had more than enough of crowds from living in Los Angeles―and it was a beautiful day anyway. Enjoying the mild weather and clear blue sky sounded a lot better than being stuck in a small space full of tables and people.
While he waited for his food to arrive, Christian tried to read his light novel. It was beginning to get good. Kazuma, the main character, was just about to have a showdown with his father, who had kicked him out of their family nearly a decade before the start of the story. Christian was anxious to find out what happened next.
Unfortunately, despite how much he normally enjoyed reading light novels, the encounter with the girl that Intelligence claimed was a succubus remained on his mind. In spite of not wanting to think about what happened, he did, and it hampered his ability to focus on anything else, leaving him unable to even enjoy his favorite pastime.
“Here ya go, hon.” The voice and a plateful of delicious-looking pancakes being placed in front of him shook Christian from his musings. He looked up to see an elderly woman serving him. She put an empty cup on the table next to the plate, and then looked at him with a kind smile.
“Coffee will be ready in just a minute. Is there anything else that I can get you?”
“No.” Christian shook his head, but was suddenly struck by inspiration. He quickly called to the woman just as she was about to leave. “Actually, there is something that I’d like to ask you.”
The woman turned around. “Oh? What would you like to ask me?”
“I accidentally bumped into this girl on the way here. She dropped her stuff and forgot to pick it up.” He reached down and grabbed the bag full of food that his target had dropped in her haste. He had picked it up and, not knowing what else to do, took it with him. “I wanted to give it back to her, but don’t know where I should go to find her.”
“Ah, you met Lilith.” The woman had an understanding look about her. Christian had the distinct impression that she knew something he didn’t.
“Lilith?” He feigned ignorance.
“The girl you ran into; long blond hair, blue eyes, absolutely gorgeous. Makes supermodels cry in envy.”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“Hon, you’d best just forget about returning that to her. Even if you did manage to find her, she’d just run away again.”
“I’m not sure I understand.” Christian didn’t need to feign confusion this time. “Why would she run away from me?”
“You must be new here or you wouldn’t be asking that,” the old woman said. “The reason you won’t be able to come anywhere near her is because Lilith has androphobia. She’s deathly afraid of men.”
Oh, well, that made sense. His target was afraid of men. If that was true, then it was only natural that she would run away from… him…
… Wait. What?
Brandon Varnell is a writer... the end.
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